Verveine, Milford on Sea

I was treated to lunch today at Verveine by my daughter.  It was my second visit to Verveine and it was every bit as memorable as the first visit!

We chose from the excellent value Lunch Menu and for starters I had Rabbit Confit with Smoked Pork Cheek and Remoulade. Normally I’d have chosen the fish option which came with pickled vegeatables but with my new found interest in home curing and smoking I wanted to try the rabbit and smoked pork. A great choice and the smoked pork cheek was superb.

My chosen main which was described on the menu as Brixham Flat Fish turned out to be a fillet of Megrim which has been described as ‘a fish that only a mother could love’! I’m not it’s mother and I loved it. Then again, I didn’t see it before it was skinned and filleted. The texture was excellent and the flavour was up there with the possibly over-priced Dover Sole. Cooked to perfection, it came with poached oysters and saute potatoes. A confession here which I shouldn’t have to make at my age – I’ve eaten, I don’t know how many oysters, each with a squeeze of lemon and a grind of black pepper but I’ve never before eaten a cooked one! Isn’t a cooked one different to a raw one? I thought it was quite similar to a mussel and would never has guessed that it was an oyster.

Another first with the dessert – tonka beans. I didn’t know of tonka beans but here was a Tonka Bean Panna Cotta served with Pear and a small cube of Chocolate Brownie. I’m now going search out tonka beans because the flavour is absolutely brilliant. The very first flavour to come through is vanilla, then it evolves into something a little woody and finally homes in on cedar. That’s a flavour I’ve got to play with. Marriages are between a couple so this combination of pear, brownie and tonks bean panna cotta was a ‘menage a trois’ made in heaven.

The Petit Fours with Coffee included two I remembered with great affection from my first visit. A tiny Fisherman’s Friend flavoured meringue. I know, it sounds horrible and overpowering. Trust me it’s not! All the Fisherman’s Friend flavour is there but it’s very gentle and doesn’t overpower in any way. The other Petit Four I loved was a cube of Salted Caramel wrapped up like a toffee in a clear cellophane wrapper. Except that the wrapper is not cellophane but is made from potato starch so you eat the thing whole. That’s really clever.

Thank you, Verveine, for a truly great lunch.

Risotto Primavera

Risotto Primavera

Risotto Primavera

I first blanched fresh peas, a few sprigs of asparagus and broad beans which I then slipped the skins off. A little olive oil was heated in the pan to sweat a couple of thickly sliced spring onions before adding Arborio rice and stirring it around until it became slightly translucent. Then in with a glug of white wine which was quicly boiled off before adding vegetable stock a little at a time for the next 15 minutes or so. The vegetables were then added and given a couple of minutes to reheat and finish cooking before adding a good knob of butter and some grated Parmesan. This was stirred in and the lid put on the pan which was taken off the heat and left alone for 3 or 4 minutes before serving.

Parmesan Crusted Cod

Parmesan Crusted Cod

Parmesan Crusted Cod
The crust is a 50/50 mix of fresh breadcrumbs and grated parmesan, bound together with a little olive oil. I sprinkled a few sea salt flakes on each piece of cod loin and then topped with the crust mixture. Oven roasted for 10-15 minutes at 200C.

Tarte Tatin

Tarte Tatin

Tarte Tatin

Here’s my Tarte Tatin made to a recipe by Albert Roux, Michel Roux Jnr’s father. It’s absolute simplicity!

Melt 75g of unsalted butter in a pan and add 150g of white sugar. Peel, core and halve across the equator desert apples, I find that Cox’s are ideal and the smaller they are the better. Arrange on top of the buter and sugar mix dome side down and place on a fairly hot stove. The apples will at first give off some water and the butter, sugar, apple water mix will be quite liquid and light coloured. Keep it boiling fast until it thickens and bigger bubbles appear. It will also darken. I judge when it’s ready by smell alone. It’ll reach a point where it smells like it’s burnt! It’s not, just remove from the heat at that point. Lay a disc of puff pastry on top, tucking it well down the sides, and put into an oven at 200C for around 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and place an inverted plate over the top of the tarte and then flip it over so that the tarte ends up on the plate pastry side down. Allow to cool to room temperature and scoff the lot immediately with dollops of creme fraiche!